d’Arenberg – Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Award Winner – Arts & Culture
By Lachlan Aird, 2020 WCA Wine Media Cadet
Art and culture and the d’Arenberg brand are intrinsically linked. If the legacy of The Cube, the immersive art installation come cellar door, doesn’t already prove this then d’Arenberg commitment to bring seemingly unattainable world-class art to McLaren Vale sure is.
The Salvador Dali exhibition opened at The Cube in March 2018 and has been extended to June 30, 2021, meaning that McLaren Vale will have hosted 25 bronze sculptures and graphic artworks from the world’s most famous surrealist artist for at least three years. To date, over 22,000 visitors have seen the exhibition.
The majority of the exhibition is housed on Level 2 of The Cube, yet two of Dali’s most famous works, Nobility Of Time and Triumphant Elephant are on public display on the grounds outside The Cube. The two sculptures needed their own shipping containers to arrive in McLaren Vale, accompanied by piles of paperwork for customs clearance. The Triumphant Elegant didn’t arrive until late in 2019, giving early visitors a reason to return, apart from tasting new vintage wines of course.
When questioning d’Arenberg Brand Manager Christian Burvill-Holmes what led to the choice of having the two headlining sculptures on view for everyone to see, without needing to pay for entry, he laughs, “they didn’t fit in the building!”
Christian explains how the works are classified as ‘monumental’, meaning they are intended for public display. It is fitting that they can be admired without the need for a ticket.
“I walk past them every day and it brings a smile to my face every time,” he muses.
Christian also comments on how the emphasis of art and culture at d’Arenberg has helped enrich not only visitors, but people who work there. Far from a ‘typical’ cellar door, to work at d’Arenberg you need to be versed in the art that adorns the walls and are literally built into the walls. It’s a consideration of the whole community surrounding the brand, not just visitors, that makes d’Arenberg truly deserving of the Best Of Wine Tourism Award for Art and Culture. d’Arenberg don’t just display art to attract tourists, they do it to better describe their wines.
This is all made possible by Chief Winemaker Chester Osborn, whose love of art has been core to his tenure over the d’Arenberg brand. The Cube was his vision, conceptualising the Rubik’s Cube to convey winemaking as a puzzle. The permanent gallery collection in The Alternative Realities Museum is curated by Chester using pieces from his own art collection and has become a bucket list destination for anyone visiting the region. The artwork tells the story of the vineyards, winemaking and the marriage of art and science that inform their process. It isn’t until you reach The Cube’s top floor with stunning panoramic views of McLaren Vale that you get to sample the end result.
So how did a Salvador Dali exhibition end up in a McLaren Vale cellar door?
“Chester was at a Dali exhibition in Sydney,” explains Christian. “And he went up to the curator and said the exhibition needed to come to The Cube. And so, it did.”
Those that know Chester will know that this story is entirely true. For those who don’t, after a visit to The Cube you’ll start to understand.
Read more of Lachlan’s blogs here.